In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #113

It's a new school year, with familiar and new faces learning their craft as something vows to destroy them.

The covers: A class portrait “action shot” of three of the newest students to attend Arcane Acre with one of their instructors is the content of the A cover by Sean Chen and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Mary has some sparkly magic emanating from her hand, Lance is sporting a blade, and Wiglaf has two knives. Sela Mathers holds a tome in one hand and a long sword high above her in the other. This is a good composition, looking like a movie poster more than a comic book cover. I like the look on all the characters, though Wiglaf is not looking directly at the reader. I also like the house behind them, and the coloring is very sharp; the slow fade of colors on the bottom third of the cast is a good way to have Wiglaf pop out. The B cover is by Alfredo Reyes and Stephen Schaffer. This cover shows what’s going in a class taught by Bolder, a dwarf. Two boys don’t realize that their antics have been seen by the small teacher, who’s about to inflict some sort of punishment. The focus of the image isn’t as strong as the A, with the chalkboard having too much dominance. The coloring is very good, though, with the brick work being outstanding. The final cover, the C, is the one I chose to use for this review because it’s so striking. New student Mary is shown in all her glory, seemingly dressed up for a Dia de los Muertos celebration. This is lush drawing by Paolo Pantalena. The detail on her makeup and frills on her outfit are tops. The coloring by Ula Mos is beautiful. I really like the different violets chosen to spotlight her reds, blacks, and grays. This should be a print. Overall grade: A A, B B-, and C A+ 

The story: “War Is Over”, a story created by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Pat Shand, with Shand writing the tale, opens with Skye Mathers relating her past to readers before dashing off for the first gathering of students for the second year of classes at Arcane Acre. The students are surprised to see that they have uniforms this year, which doesn’t sit very well with Wiglaf, a lion man. The staff tells them that they know they’ve been through a lot after the school was attacked (in the previous issues), but they’re going to make everyone’s safety a priority. Additionally there’s a new students that’s joined them: Lance du Lac from Wonderland. Skye is more than a little taken with him. Later, Belinda reveals to Shang that she’s located someone surprisingly strong in magic and they’ll have to try to locate her. Classes go fine, until Skye has a moment with another student. Not helping things is the negative influence one of the student body seems to have on another student, which leads to this issue’s cliffhanger. There’s an excellent amount of character building in this issue, especially with the three students I’ve mentioned. I’m glad to see the focus on them, as the teachers have already done a lot in Zenescope’s titles over the last ten years — it’s time to share the wealth. I’m really liking Wiglaf and Lance, with one acting suspiciously. There’s also a nice presence of evil doings during the proceedings, that harkens back to the creature that ended the invasion of the last issue. And could I not have my heart taken by Page 19? I really look forward to reading this book each month. Overall grade: A

The art: David Lorenzo Riveiro does the visuals on this book and they’re good. The opening splash page has a really nice shot of a crowd gathered around Skye as she’s doing “something” to “someone.” Usually artists will spend the majority of the focus on the protagonist and the antagonist of such a shot, downplaying the crowd, but Riveiro doesn’t do that. All the characters look great, with a nice detail of one person using their phone to take a picture of what’s occurring. The setting is also really well done, with a bit of perspective shot going down the street. Page 3 has some extremely good expressions on the characters’ faces, with Wiglaf being the strongest — which is impressive, considering he’s not human. The teachers look equally well drawn, with Sela looking gorgeous, but not in over-the-top bombshell mode. The top panel on 7 has a really nice, simple magical element, but combined with everything else in the image, it looks fanastic. The tease on 8 is outstanding, with that character looking great and making me want to see what this person is all about. There’s also a solid action sequence on 10 – 13, with a nice variety of angles to make it exciting and some good close-ups, such as at the bottom of 10. Page 16 had me giggling, while I was thinking this could only lead to trouble. I’m still not thrilled with the design of the antagonists, but that’s not Riveiro’s doing, so I can’t lay that at his feet: he’s doing the best he can considering what he was given. Overall grade: A

The colors: I like my comic books to be colorful, rather than have colors be solids or variations on one color to create a mood. Eric Arciniega gives me exactly what I want. The first page opens with the greys of a sprawling metropolis, but he uses some vivid violets for magic which sweetly stand out. The individual on the ground is given a faded violet to make him stand out and to create an otherworldliness about him. I also like that the narration balloons are colored neon blue to demand the reader look at them before looking at the art. The sunrise on 2 creates a warm element to the aged structure. I really like the shading that Arciniega does with the faces on all the characters: examples of this can be found on Pages 3, 4, 8, 9 (WOW!), 11, 15, 16, and 21. Reds really come to life on the last three pages, making the events seem very dire. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, Twitter text, scene setting, dialogue, pamphlet text, sounds, the droning lecture of a teacher, writing on a passed note, and next issue’s tease are done by Ghost Glyph Studios. This wide variety of fonts’ styles and sizes show why this group is one to watch! Each change up in the text is necessary and appropriate for what must be read. I really like, though I’m loathe to admit it as a teacher, that the droning lecture by Bolder was really funny. Overall grade: A+

The final line: It’s a new school year, with familiar and new faces learning their craft as something vows to destroy them. Interesting characters with excellent art makes this a title I always look forward to. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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